Black bears have the widest range of any bear species in North America, making them the type of bear outdoor enthusiasts are most likely to run into. Their range stretches from the the far reaches of Alaska across Canada to the East Coast, down the Rockies and Appalachian Mountains and up through the West Coast as well. Pockets of the animals exist in the Southeast and the bears have even laid claim to Mexico.
Despite their extensive range. Black bears are arguably the least feared of all North American bear species. This is due to their relatively small size, meek behavior, and readiness to retreat. If you were to choose between fighting a brown or black bear, most people would choose the black bear in a heartbeat. Still, black bears can be dangerous. At least seven black bear-related fatalities have been reported in the last five years, with the most recent being a camper who was killed while he slept in the wilderness of British Columbia. A much larger number of non-fatal attacks, conflicts, and incidents have also been reported.
So, keep in mind that while black bears may be meek, never let your guard down around a wild animal. Would you survive a black bear encounter? Take our quiz below to find out.
It’s pretty easy, so if you fail it, you may want to look up some common bear safety tips—and buy some bear spray while you’re at it.